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On Sunday night, a "miracle" saw its curtain call.

That was how one enthusiastic attendee described seeing "Godspell" Sunday night, at the Berkshire Theatre Group production's 46th and final performance of the musical.

"Yes. It's a kind of miracle," agreed the show's director Alan Filderman, "but it came down to a lot of hard work."

That hard work from BTG, as well as from Barrington Stage Company in its one-man show "Harry Clarke," made the Berkshires the national epicenter of theater's resurgence after productions and venues shuttered in March due to the coronavirus. While the pandemic challenged the theater companies' plans for a typically terrific season, their sweat equity and fierce determination meant that area theatergoers could safely get out for a small sense of normalcy and a bit of creative whimsy.

"This is an incredible moment for theater," BTG board of trustees President Lee Perlman said.

It's an incredible moment, indeed, and it's the kind that's playing out beyond the stage throughout the Berkshires. Like the theater groups that worked tirelessly so that the show could go on safely, so too have countless Berkshire groups and advocates adapted in the face of hardship to keep doing what they do best.

The Elizabeth Freeman Center annual Walk a Mile In Her Shoes Event fundraising event, typically held at one of Pittsfield's 3rd Thursdays, had to be radically altered this year as Walk a Virtual Mile. While leaders were weary that donations might be down from previous years, they quickly crushed the initial $45,000 goal. With more than $92,000 raised with several days left in the campaign, the continued success of the crucial fundraising campaign speaks to the Freeman Center's critical mission and diligence in in reorganizing the event, as well as the community's unwavering support in an uncertain time.

Despite the cancellation of this year's Berkshire Pride event, Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition is also putting in the extra work to keep its mission alive, continuing its collaborative work with other local advocate groups like the Freeman Center and the Berkshire NAACP.

Boxxa Vine, a Monterey-based drag queen, was slated to be the Berkshire Pride Festival entertainment coordinator. Instead, she's putting her energy toward making and selling custom pride masks, with proceeds benefiting Berkshire Stonewall Coalition and ROOTS Teen Center in North Adams.

Kelan O'Brien, who chairs the annual Berkshire Pride Festival, alluded to a community spirit that won't be diminished despite having to roll with the pandemic's punches.

"Pride, equity and inclusion are really things that should be ingrained in our everyday lives every day of every month of every year. We are hopeful that, this year, that message rings clearer and is put into practice more diligently."

From the arts to advocacy, it has been a difficult summer for the Berkshires, and it's going to be a tough autumn and winter, too. Nevertheless, these local institutions and their laudable goals have proven resilient in the face of myriad challenges posed by the coronavirus. It might seem like a "miracle," but it's really a testament to the unique grit and community values that the Berkshires boast.

To the aforementioned groups and countless others striving to survive and thrive in these trying times: Keep up the good work.


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